Far Hills, NJ (Sports Network) - The United States Golf Association announced on Monday that it will add men's and women's Four-Ball Championships to the schedule in 2015, and will retire the Amateur Public Links after 2014.
The addition of the four-ball championship marks the first new events added to the USGA slate in over 25 years. Both championships will be contested between mid-March and late May.
"We couldn't be more excited about the creation of national Four-Ball Championships, given the popularity and enjoyment of this competitive format at the amateur level," said USGA Vice President and Championship Committee Chairman Thomas J. O'Toole Jr. "Because the four-ball format lends itself to spirited team competition and aggressive risk-reward shot-making, we are confident these championships will deliver exciting amateur golf to the national stage for both players and spectators alike."
The championships will be limited to amateurs with a handicap index better than 5.4 for men and 14.4 for women. There will be no age restrictions.
Fields will consist of 128 two-player teams for men and 64 for women. The teams will play 36 holes of stroke play before a cut to the low 32 teams for the match play portion of the championship.
While the Four-Ball Championships are being added, the men's and women's Amateur Public Links will be retired after the 2014 season.
According to the USGA's release, "The decision follows an internal review which determined that the APL and WAPL championships no longer serve their original mission because of the widespread accessibility public-course golfers today enjoy in USGA championships."
"While our fondness for these championships made this decision a difficult one, we will continue to proudly celebrate the legacy and important role that the APL and WAPL have had on the game by forever honoring them in the USGA Museum, as well as in other appropriate ways," said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of Rules, Competitions & Equipment Standards for the USGA.
Future PGA and LPGA Tour players such as Billy Mayfair, Tim Clark, 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Ryan Moore, reigning FedEx Cup champ Brandt Snedeker, women's world No. 1 Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie are former Public Links champions.